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You Bet Your Glass: April 2014

Corporations behaving badly - Part 2


April 14, 2014
By Frank Fulton

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In the last issue I told you that I finally ran out of cheques, what
happened when I tried to order new ones from the Davis + Henderson (D+H)
Corporation, and eventually ended up with a teller at my bank branch.

In the last issue I told you that I finally ran out of cheques, what happened when I tried to order new ones from the Davis + Henderson (D+H) Corporation, and eventually ended up with a teller at my bank branch.

She told me I could get a hundred cheques for a little over $50.  I explained that I didn’t need duplicate cheques, decorative gold leaf or silver inlays, just plain old paper cheques, even using recycled paper, would do just fine.  She understood.  “Yes, fifty dollars.”  I told her I must research this further and please do not place an order for me at this time.  There must be some misunderstanding.

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I contacted D+H by e-mail to ask if they accept personal cheque orders on line and where I could find their prices on their website.  I also explained the quote I had received at my bank branch, asked if they now make the cheques out of platinum, and requested an economically viable alternative.  I received a reply telling me that the price of $50 is correct and that if I wanted additional information I should phone their “cheque advisor” during normal working hours.  Now I feel like I’m being played. 

Until they got me all wound up, I didn’t know much or care much about D+H.  One hit on Google and it soon becomes apparent what is important to this behemoth: acquisitions, shareholder relations, and U.S. growth.  Their revenue in 2012 was a whopping $757 million with $301 million of that coming from their Payment Solutions division that includes selling cheques.  Adjusted net income for the year was $108 million. There is a megapile of information presented for investors, financial statements up the ying yang, and page upon page of corporate speak.  Surely a monster like this that spends millions on their website would be capable of maintaining a cheque ordering page that actually works.

A few years ago I read what has become my favourite book on business relations and customer service called “Raving Fans” written by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles.  I liked it so much I’ve read it about six times now, but that’s largely due to the fact that it is quite short, has large printing, doesn’t have too much written on each page, and can be plowed through in about an hour or so.  In other words, it’s perfectly suited for the limited attention span of folks in the glass industry.  The authors take on the service provided by corporations these days is “Customers are a revolt waiting to happen.  They’re only satisfied because their expectations are so low and because no one else is doing any better.”

I replied to the D+H suggestion to contact their advisor in a polite manner, thanked them for the courtesy of their reply, and notified them that I had opted to make my purchase of cheques from another vendor and that my reasons may be of interest to their sales and marketing people.  I explained that I do not believe that they actually accept on line orders and purposefully do not publish their cheque prices.  If they did, consumers would immediately shop for alternatives on line as I did.  Instead, they manipulate consumers to go to their branch without knowing the price in advance and expect they will place an order at inflated gouging prices because they are not aware that there are other options.  I let them know that my experience gave me a very bad impression of their company and that I considered their methods to be contrived and underhanded.  I felt they were trying to screw me, it made me angry, and it made me take my business elsewhere.  I ended up buying my cheques from a company called ASAP Cheques for less than half the price D+H wanted.

Another gem from the “Raving Fans” book on the value of customer feedback is “Silence is a message and usually it’s not a good one.”  I will often offer my opinion, both good and bad, if I think it will help someone, and went on to tell the D+H people that “I’m the one in a thousand who will bother to send you a note like this, the other 999 people you alienated with your tactics will simply place their purchase elsewhere and you will never know why”.  They haven’t sent me a thank you note yet.


Frank Fulton is president of Fultech Fenestration Consulting. He has been in the industry for 30 years and can be reached via e-mail at fultech.fc@gmail.com


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